The Redeemed Woman
THE REDEEMED WOMAN
This message of restoration because of Christ’s death on the Cross is a major theme throughout the New Testament. Because of it men and women who are in Christ have become the righteousness of God according to II Corinthians 5:21
“God made Him who had no sin to become sin for us so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.”
They have become new creations according to II Corinthians 5:17
“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation ; the old has gone, the new has come.”
They are to forget the past according to Philippians 3:13
“This I do, forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead.”
There is no condemnation for them according to Romans 8:1-2
“Therefore there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus because through Christ Jesus the Law of the Spirit of Life has set me free from the Law of Sin and Death.”
They are one in Christ according to Galatians 3:28
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
They are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ according to Romans 8:17
“Now if we are children then we are heirs - heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ.”
They have been seated with Christ in the heavenly realms according to Ephesians 2:6
“And God raised us up with Christ and has seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.”
And they are blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ according to Ephesians 1:3
“Praise be to the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.”
That is very good news indeed!!
Furthermore, the Apostle Paul taught in I Corinthians Chapters 12-14 and in Romans 12:4-8 that every believer, be they male or female, was a part of the Body of Christ and was to function as part of the Body with the gift or gifts given by the Holy Spirit for the benefit of others. These gifts were given as the Holy Spirit determined without race, class or gender distinction.
Romans 12:4-8* reads as follows:
“Just as each one of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. It it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously, if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.” 
In the original text of Romans 12:4-8 no specific gender is mentioned. Therefore, a more accurate translation would be
“For just as each one of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so, in Christ, we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; it it is service, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, then do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.”
One example of the gifts of the Spirit working through both men and women can be seen in I Corinthians 11:4-5
“Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered, dishonours his head.
And every woman, who prays or prophecies with her head uncovered, dishonours her head.”
These verses are a part of a larger segment of Scripture which begins with
I Corinthians 11:3 and ends with I Corinthians 11:16. This is quite a complicated passage of Scripture and because of it we may not appreciate the fact that Paul allowed both men and women to pray and prophesy in public.
And he explained in I Corinthians 14:29-31 that the function of prophecy included teaching
“Two or three prophets should speak, and others should weigh carefully what is said. And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged.”
From these verses we can see that one of the main functions of prophecy is instruction or teaching, so Paul obviously expected both men and women to teach others.
THE RESPONSIBLE WOMAN
That puts a responsibility on each believer, be they male or female to use their God-given gifts and leaders are to make room for believers to function in their gifts.
God is not pleased with excuses such as “I am too old” or “I am too young” or “I am of the wrong background”.
Other excuses we might want to use sound as if they have come straight out of the Word of God. Perhaps you recognise some of them.
“Man is the head of the woman”.
“A woman is to submit to a man in the Church and at home a wife is to submit to her husband.”
“A woman is to be silent.”
“A woman is not allowed to teach or to have authority over a man.”
These statements need careful consideration though we must always remember that they need to be read in the light of the wider context of Scripture. They cannot overrule what Scripture teaches in general with regard to men and women. It would be wrong for any one of us to build a case defending a particular viewpoint based only on one or two passages of Scripture.
We must remember as well that the inspired and infallible Word of God contains material that, though we may learn from it, may not be applicable to us in the same way that was meant to those to whom it was written.
An example in the Old Testament would be the purification ritual a woman would have to undergo because of her ceremonial uncleanliness after her monthly period or after the birth of a child as described in Leviticus 12 and Leviticus 15:19-30.
An example from the New Testament would be the issue of food that had been sacrificed to idols as discussed by the Apostle Paul in I Corinthians 8. This must have been a real issue in Corinth affecting Christians which then and there needed to be addressed. However, that is not the case today. Therefore, we cannot relate to this passage in the same way that those believers did.
Therefore it may at times be helpful to have some background information to help us understand how to apply what is written in certain passages in the Scriptures. This makes sense, of course, for Scripture was written long ago over a long period of time and it deals with different people of different cultures.
THE RESTRICTED WOMAN
We’ll first of all look at the statement: “Man is the head of the woman”
We find this mentioned in I Corinthians 11:3
“The head of every man is Christ. The head of the woman is the man, and the head of Christ is God.”
In the English language the word “head” means either “a part of our physical body” or someone in a position of “authority” or “power” for instance “the head of a department” or “the head of a company”.
In the Greek language of Paul’s days the word “head” could mean these things depending on the particular Greek term the author had chosen. Paul in I Corinthians 11:3 had chosen the word “kephale” which can mean “physical head” or “source, source of life”. However, it does not mean “authority” or “power”.
We can see this from the order in which Paul listed the three pairs:
“every man/Christ”, “woman/man” and “Christ/God.”
If he had given us a hierarchical order to establish authority, he would have written:
“Christ/God”, “every man/Christ” and “woman/man” but has not done so.
Paul, who was a very orderly writer, had something completely different in mind, namely a chronological order to establish that “head” meant “source”. As such the chronological order makes perfect sense for Christ was the source of life for the first man from whom every man descended, the first man was the source of life for the first woman and God was the source of life for Christ in His Incarnation.
Some background information might be helpful here. The people to whom Paul was writing had been influenced by the pagan belief that the woman was made of a substance different from and inferior to the man. By using the term “kephale” Paul was correcting this error and confirming the Creation Account as given to us in Genesis 2:21-22 that tells us that the woman was made from the man’s rib or, in fact, side and thereby confirmed the equality of the woman to the man. 
Another example of the man as the head as the woman can be found in Ephesians 5:23
“For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the Church, of which He is the Saviour.”
Once again Paul used the word “kephale” to describe the husband’s function as “head of his wife“. Not only did Paul make it very clear from the word he had chosen that this function as “head” did not mean “authority” or “power” but he went on to specify which example husbands were to follow. They were to follow the highest example, namely Christ’s example as Head of the Church in His role as Saviour of the Church.
Now we know that Christ functions not only as Head but as Lord, as King, as Priest, as Intercessor among other things. However, it is only in connection with Christ’s function as Head of the Church, which is associated with His role as Saviour of the Church, that Paul mentioned the husband’s function as head of his wife.
This means that Paul did not associate the husband’s function as “head of his wife” with Christ’s function as Lord, as King, as Priest, as Intercessor but only with Christ’s function as Saviour which is a sacrificial function and not a rulership function.
Paul emphasised this in Ephesians 5:25
“Husbands love your wives, just as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her.”
And Ephesians 5:28-29
“…Husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the Church.”
Therefore, according to Paul, the function of any husband as “head of his wife” was to be a loving, serving, ministering, nourishing, self-giving, sacrificial function without even a hint of authority or rulership attached to it.
Another statement we’ll look at is:
“A woman is to submit to a man at Church and at home a wife is to submit to her husband.”
The Greek word for submission is “hupotasso” and means “aligning oneself with another”, “giving allegiance to another” “tending to the needs of another”, “be supportive of another”, “be responsive to another”, “complying with the wishes of another” or “responsible behaviour towards another”. 
An example is Ephesians 5:21-22
“Submit to one another out of reverence for God. Wives submit to your husbands as to the Lord.”
The original text reads as follows:
“Submit to one another out of reverence to God. Wives to husbands as to the Lord.”
We have here a case where the author has left an important word out of the text since its meaning can be understood by what he previously had written. The translators have added the missing word to the translated text, which they were able to do by studying the original text.
It might be helpful for us to have some understanding of the cultural background of the people Paul was dealing with.
At that time, married Gentile women were still under the authority of their parental household and were required to still worship the gods of that household. Paul encouraged these women to separate themselves from their parental household and to align themselves with their husbands and so to form a new household under the Lordship of Christ. That would have been a major challenge since many of them would have come from pagan households.
Furthermore, Paul in that same passage instructed husbands to love their wives and to love them sacrificially as we have already seen in Ephesians 5:25
“Husbands love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.”
And Ephesians 5:28-29
“….Husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the Church.”
That too would have been a completely new teaching for these men since, according to their background, wives were only useful as carers of the home and providers of offspring, preferably male.
The next statement we’ll look at is: “A woman is to be silent”
An example is I Corinthians 14:34-35
“Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they want to enquire about something they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.”
This is quite an interesting statement. Particularly if it had come from Paul for, he had not too long ago, in I Corinthians 11:5 to be exact, confirmed that women could pray and prophesy. Now I don’t know about you, but to me, people, be they men or women who pray or prophesy use words to pray or prophesy and are therefore not exactly silent when praying or prophesying.
Theologians have come up with a number of views.
The Protestant Reformer Calvin’s comment on this passage is as follows:
“When he (Paul) reproves them for prophesying with their heads uncovered, he at the same time does not give them permission to prophesy in some other way but rather delays his condemnation of this vice to another passage namely in I Corinthians 14.”
This is rather a curious statement is it not? The Reformer here calls the prophesying of women a “vice” which though seemingly encouraged by the Apostle Paul in
I Corinthians 11:5 is then supposedly withdrawn by him in I Corinthians 14.
The Reformer seems to imply here that the Holy Spirit, who is the Source behind Paul’s words, changed His mind about women praying and prophesying at some point between Chapters 11 and 14. This, however, is not a correct view.
A more recent comment on this passage is from Wayne Grudem which is as follows:
“In this section Paul cannot be prohibiting all public speech by women in the Church for he clearly allows them to pray and prophesy in Church in I Corinthians 11:5 Understanding of this passage depends on our view of the gift of prophecy, namely that prophecy involves not authoritative Bible teaching… For Paul is concerned to preserve male leadership in the teaching and governing of the Church.”
Though Wayne Grudem does allow women to pray and prophesy his view of prophecy is not in line with I Corinthians 14:29-31
“Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged.”
Paul wrote here that prophecy was for instruction and encouragement. This clearly includes an element of teaching which Wayne Grudem does not allow for.
The reasons we have such difficulties with understanding I Corinthians 14:34-35 is because we do not necessarily realise that these verses were not in fact Paul’s own words but a quotation from a letter he had received from the Church leaders in Corinth.
His answer in the form of a rebuke can be found in I Corinthians 14:36-37. Paul actually began this passage with an expression, which has been left out by most translators. However, it has been translated in the KJV as "What?" followed by the words "Came the word of God out from you?...... or as is stated in the NIV "Did the word of God originate with you?" He thereby declared that the viewpoint of these people, who had been greatly influenced by "The Law", which was a collection of orally preserved Rabbinical Traditions, was in fact invalid.
A Jewish historian Josephus who lived from 37 A.D. to about 100 A.D. used this collection of orally preserved Traditions, this Law in his writings:
“The woman, says the Law, is in all things inferior to the man. Let her accordingly be submissive.”
The fact is, all Jewish Regulations for women were based on Commentaries on the Old Testament and not on the Old Testament itself.
The last statement we’ll look at is:
“A woman is not to teach or to have authority over a man”
An Example is I Timothy 2:11-15
“A woman should learn in quietness and full submission.
I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent
For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved through childbearing - if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.”
Traditionally this passage has been interpreted to mean that women in general are not allowed to teach. Those who have taught this have based this first of all on the so-called “Creation Order” related to the sentence: “For Adam was formed first, then Eve” and secondly on the sentence: “It was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.”
The Protestant Reformer John Calvin’s comment on this passage is along these lines.
“Women are to be silent quiet because they must keep within their own rank. She was created afterwards, in order that she might be a kind of appendage to the man to render obedience to him….”
“God having assigned the woman to subjection at the beginning, furthermore inflicted the rulership of the man as a punishment at the time of the Fall. She is not to improve her condition…..”
We have already seen that this view is incorrect.
“The weakness of the sex renders women suspicious and timid.”
Though weak in herself, the woman who is in Christ will have the power of God working in her and through her as Paul testified in II Corinthians 12:9
“But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.”
“The destruction of the whole human race was attributed to them (meaning to women)….”
We know that God did not blame the woman specifically for the Fall of mankind but made both the man and the woman responsible for their sin.
“Their subjection as a testimony of the wrath of God is constantly placed before their eyes.”
Thankfully, Christ redeemed men and women from the curse by becoming a curse for us as in Galatians 3:13
“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us.”
Because of it men and women can come boldly before the Throne of Grace according to Hebrews 4:16
“Let us then approach the Throne of Grace with confidence.”
“They suffer temporal punishment.”
This is Roman Catholic Dogma  to which men and women who are in Christ do not subscribe for we know that God’s punishment for sin was paid in full at the Cross as in Isaiah 53:5
“The punishment that brought us peace was upon Him.”
“When a woman considering to what she has been called, submits to the condition which God has assigned to her and does not refuse the pains of childbearing or anxiety about her offspring….”
God calls women to many functions which may or may not include marriage and motherhood. Furthermore, childbearing may be challenging but woman are not called by God to suffer unnecessarily as Calvin seemed to think.
A woman’s field of labour may therefore include her home but may not exclusively be her home.
Part of Wayne Grudem’s comment on I Timothy 2:11-14 is as follows:
“Should women be Pastors or Elders in the Churches? The single passage in Scripture that addresses this question most directly is I Timothy 2:11-14.
Here Paul is speaking about the Church when it is assembled. In such a setting, Paul says, “I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over men.” These are the functions that are carried out by the Elders of the Church…. It is specifically these functions unique to Elders that Paul prohibits for women in the Church. The reason Paul gives for this prohibition is the situation of Adam and Eve before the Fall, and before there was any sin in the world, and the way in which a reversal in male and female roles occurred at the time of the Fall.…..so Paul uses the fact that “Adam was formed first, then Eve” as a reason for restricting some distinct governing and teaching roles in the Church to men.”
It is interesting to me that Wayne Grudem’s comments are based only on
I Timothy 2:11-14. He does not include verse 15, which is clearly a part of this section of Scripture. This may well be because he uses the literal interpretation method to interpret verses 11-14 and he knows that this interpretation method cannot be applied to verse 15. Sadly, this has not made Wayne Grudem consider the possibility that likewise verses 11-14 may need to be interpreted differently.
Having looked at these interpretations of I Timothy 2:11-15 it becomes very clear that many theologians have not considered the specific people about whom Paul was writing to Timothy, nor their particular problems.
THE REDEEMED WOMAN
1. The Holy Bible, Today’s New International Version, (TNIV) Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530, USA: Zondervan,
THE RESTRICTED WOMAN
1. The IPV Women's Bible Commentary. Edited by Catherine Clark Kroeger and Mary J. Evans. Downers Grove.
IL 60515-1426. Intervarsity Press, 2002. p 659.
2. Loren Cunningham, David Joel Hamilton with Janice Rogers, Why not women? A fresh look at Scripture on
women in missions, ministry and leadership (YWAM Publishing Seattle, WA 98156) pp. 159-170.
3. ibid., p. 166
4. John Temple Bristow. What Paul really said about women. An Apostle’s liberating view on equality in marriage,
leadership and love (New York, NJ 10022: Harper Collins Publishers, 1988), pp. 35-38.
5. Charles Trombley. Who said woman can’t teach? (South Plainfield, NJ 07080:
Bridge Publishing, Inc., 1985), pp. 154-159.
6. John Temple Bristow. What Paul really said about women. An Apostle’s liberating view on equality in
marriage, leadership and love (New York, NJ 10022: Harper Collins Publishers, 1988), p. 40.
7. Craig. S. Keener. Paul, women & wives. Marriage and women’s ministry in the Letters of Paul (Peabody,
Massachusetts, 01961-3473: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1992), p. 169.
8. J. Lee Grady. 25 Tough questions about women and the Church. (Lake Mary, Florida 32746: Charisma House,
2003), pp. 15-16.
9. Source obtained from Internet: Christian Classics Ethereal Library. Commentary by John Calvin on I
10. Wayne Grudem. Systematic Theology; an Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, (Leicester, Great Britain,
Intervarsity Press and Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA, Zondervan Publishing House, 1994) p. 939.
11. Katherine C. Bushnell. God's Word to Women. One Hundred Bible Studies on Woman's Place in the Divine
Economy. Peoria, IL. Cosette McCleave Jolliff and Bernice Martin Menold. pp. 84-98.
12. Charles Trombley. Who said woman can’t teach? (South Plainfield, NJ 07080:Bridge Publishing, Inc., 1985),
13. Source obtained the from Internet: Christian Classics Ethereal Library. Commentary by John Calvin on I
14. ibid. I Timothy 2:13
15. ibid. I Timothy 2:15.
17. Source obtained from the Internet.Christian Classics Ethereal Library.Commentary by John Calvin on I
19. Geoffrey Chapman. Catechism of the Catholic Church (The Bath Press, Avon. 1994), articles 1471 – 1473,
20. Source obtained from the Internet. Christian Classics Ethereal Library. Commentary by John Calvin on I
21. Pastor Kluane Simonds Spake Ph. D. From enmity to equality. A study guide of practical wisdom to help
Christian women accomplish their fulfillment of God’s vision and destiny. (Suwanee, GA 30024: Workforce
Press, 1994), pp. 222-223.
22. Wayne Grudem. Systematic Theology; an Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, (Leicester, Great Britain,
Intervarsity Press and Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA, Zondervan Publishing House, 1994) pp. 937 – 938.